Questions that students should ask at open days

To save time and to help you I’ve used a list of questions from Mendoza, J. (2018) 50 questions to ask at university open days, which can be found here: www.sacoapartments.com/blog/50-questions-to-ask-at-university-open-days.

1. How will the course be assessed?

A lot of courses will have 60/40 2-part courseworks, some will have an exam or two, but this is gradually being phased out

2. How many students will be on the course?

Depending on the course you do. During first year you will share modules with other students so you may have up to 100-150 student together in the lecture hall. After this you will have smaller group sizes, from 15-30 depending on the course. Larger courses will have larger student group sizes.

3. Is there opportunity to take a placement? If so, will the university organise this?

Yes, nearly all the courses have a placement module in the summer of second year. In recent years it was 20 weeks but when you arrive at the RAU it will be 15 weeks.

No, the university does not usually organise this, you need to find, apply and secure the job. The RAU has a great careers office with a list of RAU graduates and associations that delightfully take on students from placements if you are stuck.

4. What sort of student support provision is in place?

The lecturers are amazing people and are the student’s first port of call when you need support. Each student is assigned a personal tutor who will want to meet you once or twice a term to catch up with you and see how you are doing. Each course will have course representative meetings once or twice a term, and you will have several student representatives in your course, so if you have any problems with the university or course that you want to express anonymously, this can be done through them. The university also has an anonymous box for students to write into. The university also has careers support, enterprise support, dyslexia, Student Hub, Student Union, Wellbeing, counselling, STARS, disability, academic and health care. Do not worry, everyone here is here to help J

5. Do the staff seem knowledgeable and accessible?

Absolutely. Most lecturers have rapid-fire responses to their emails and know everything about the course, the module and the coursework. Very rarely do they have to ask another lecturer for an answer. They are all professionals with outstanding industry experience.

6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on or off campus?

On campus – easy socialisation, meals and access to lecturers and student facilities. You also have greater independence.

It can get expensive and you may get a bit homesick.

Off campus – home – cheap! But socialising may be a bit more difficult if you live further away; if you drive you can’t drink etc.

In town – cheaper housing, you get to live with people of your own choosing, make your own meals and may have easier access to town. You may have to share bathrooms and communal areas with other people and they may not be as tidy and clean as you thought L

7. What sports and societies are available at university?

The RAU has over 50 clubs and societies, and students can create new ones at the Student Union at any time if there is enough interest to found a new one. We have everything, and due to our location, we can offer some that other unis struggle with, such as boating, polo, horse riding, archery, shooting, ski trips and enterprise.

8. What grades do you need – and can you still get a place if you don't quite get the grades?

I did not do great at A Levels. I was having way too much fun and flunked. I still passed but I did not get the required grades. At GCSE however, I was a straight A student. If you prove that you will put in the effort and get high marks, you may still be offered a place. It’s all in the Personal Statement. It is also worth emailing admissions and talking to them if you are worried.

9. How many hours a week will I be in timetabled teaching?

Hours decrease each year. You may have 12 hours in your first year, 9 in second year and 6 in third. University is not like school however, you are not supposed to be spoon-fed, you should be doing your own independent study. The RAU has a higher than average UK rate for timetabled teaching.

10. Is a place in halls guaranteed?

No. This cannot be guaranteed as nearly all first years apply for halls. However, if you apply early, there is a fair chance you will get the accommodation you want. Do not leave it too late!

11. What accommodation is available off-campus?

The university does not have any off-campus accommodation, but the private landlords and student letting agencies in town are great, have good houses and look after them well. They have accommodation typically in the town centre, Chesterton and Kemble. The houses in Kemble are a bit more expensive but the house is much bigger, and it is a quieter area, however you will need a vehicle to get to campus as it is a little bit far away and there is no footpath. Off campus housing is usually houses hosting 4-6 students, but there are a couple of flats right in the town centre too.

12. How far will you have to travel to get into university and around town?

From the university to town, is about a 15-20 minute walk depending on how long your legs are and if you are going uphill or downhill. This may be about 10 minutes if you cycle, and less than 5 if you drive. If you live in Chesterton, you could have only a 10-minute walk. We also have a free shuttle bus service that goes through town and makes a loop back to campus, past where there is easy access for students living off-campus to get to the bus stop.

13. Can you bring a car?

Yep! The university has 2 huge car parks. All you need to do is register your car with Car Parking/Porters Lodge and you will be issued promptly with a permit. You can bring more than one car depending on available parking spaces.

14. What are the transport links like? Are most things available on campus?

There is a railway station in Kemble that is on the Swindon-Cheltenham line. If you go to Swindon you can change to go west to Cardiff or Plymouth, or East to Reading and Paddington. There is a Stagecoach service in town that goes to Cheltenham and Swindon, and one that goes to Stroud. There is a great bus service that goes through Cirencester and reaches a large area, which you can check out here: https://bustimes.org/localities/cirencester

15. How do the costs actually break down? How much money will you need to survive?

This is depending if you are on/off campus or commuting.

  • Accommodation ranges from £5670 (self-catered) to £8435 (full-board) p/a (2020/21), student accommodation in town ranges from £300-£450 a month (£3300-£5000 p/a roughly. Check out the student lettings page)
  • Food may cost you up to £50 a week if you eat a lot
  • Transport up to £100 maybe if you do a lot of driving
  • £200-£300 a month socialising if you go out a lot

If you live on campus you may be in catered accommodation so won’t be spending so much on food. I commute, so I get a £3000-£3500 maintenance loan a year. My expenses are £270 per month, and I have a budget of £200 per month for spending on whatever I like (food, drink, socialising, buying stuff I don’t need etc. I am quite a frugal person so I make this super small budget work. I work a lot every month, so I usually earn more than I have for a spending budget, which keeps me afloat. I do not use my maintenance loan during months where I do not have lectures (Christmas, Easter and Summer break) as I work many hours to earn money. So my total expenses are about £3240 every year, my maintenance loan takes the hit of £3000, and I earn about £4000 over the year, so I actually survive really well.

16. To what extent will you need/be able to find part-time work?

Most students have part time jobs at local businesses or work full time during breaks. If you have your parents supporting you, you may still want to have a part time job to have some extra money to get you by. There are plenty of part time job opportunities in Cirencester and the local area, and especially if you come from a rural background and can work with farms, machinery and animals, there are plenty of roles for those in the local area.

17. What bursaries, scholarships or fee waivers are there and how do you apply?

The RAU does not offer any tuition fee waivers. However, they have loads of bursaries which can be found here:

www.rau.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/funding-your-time-at-university/bursaries-awards-scholarships

Most students may be applicable for these thankfully, unlike other universities, so check them out! There are also a couple of external supports such as Lycetts and John Innes that can help cover the tuition fee cost.